Remote selling provides exciting new challenges and opportunities for business. As a seller, you’re always trying to hone your craft and reach your highest potential.
Reaching out to buyers during the age of virtual meetings offers new paths to selling in B2B sales.
Challenges For Virtual Selling
Virtual sellers have to overcome several unique challenges to succeed. Many new and exciting challenges make remote selling more difficult. But virtual selling also creates a demand and opportunity for new skills. Understanding the best practices for remote selling and applying them consistently will have you landing far more sales than ever before.
Traits Of Effective Virtual Selling
Effective virtual sellers are go-getters who actively use the tools at their disposal to improve their sales process. But they are also team players who attend training sessions with a positive attitude and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Effective virtual sellers have all the qualities that traditional sales professionals have. But they’re also technologically proficient and willing to learn all the skills needed to excel in the virtual selling space. Effective virtual sellers:
Learn how to prepare for the new dynamics surrounding virtual sales meetings.
Come equipped with all the research they need in the absence of a more personal work environment.
Practice the selling techniques needed to get real answers from potential buyers.
Collaborate with their sales team using virtual-friendly practices that ensure success.
Avoid the technical deal-killer mistakes that are unique to virtual selling.
Know how to project their professionalism from their screen.
Thoughtful and consistent email communication
Let’s go over what the best sales professionals are doing to master the new sales reality.
1) Better Preparation
The most important thing that remote selling provides you is the time and space to be better prepared for your sales interactions. The extent of your preparation is amplified during remote selling. Content is key and it’s your job to give customers what they need to feel comfortable and informed.
Visual preparation is important, but there are new dynamics you need to consider. Make sure you have a neutral background to your video conferences. If possible, a professional zoom background can go a long way in displaying professionalism.
Your whole sales team has to be well-versed in navigating Zoom or any other virtual conferencing software they use. Facilitating and executing over Zoom is different than doing it in person and your team has to be able to keep up.
Virtual sellers demonstrate their effectiveness through their competence with remote communications. Selling virtually requires proficiency with online documents. Make sure your team knows how to share documents internally and externally. Everyone has to be comfortable sharing Google Docs and making sure documents get the eSignatures they need. The shift into the online space gives sellers new responsibilities, but also new ways to demonstrate their expertise.
Every seller needs a chance to prove that they’re prepared. But jumping right into a meeting without checking with their team isn’t ideal.
Pre-Meeting sessions with buyers allow sales teams to enter into sales conversations with the specific expertise and confidence they need. They can share tips and advice while going over a basic checklist that all sellers go over with clients. These sessions are critical and can accomplish several outcomes.
Building a process for sellers to follow makes everything about remote selling easier. Processes shouldn’t be too rigid, but they should provide a structure to follow that helps them make the right impression and ultimately close the sale.
Role-play is a strong tool for sellers learning how to transfer their skills to virtual meetings. Nothing will prepare them like experience, but short of that role-play is the best way to prepare. The best sales leaders will come up with a wide variety of challenging scenarios and make sure sellers are equipped to handle them and are able to leave a lasting impression.
Building trust during virtual meetings requires sellers to learn how to demonstrate personality over calls. This is a topic that they must practice in sales training sessions and pre-meeting preparation. Good easy question examples include topic-setting.
2) In-Depth Research
Remote selling requires you to face several new challenges. But it also provides you with new opportunities to prepare better presentations. Remote selling rewards the sellers that do more research and come prepared with a great presentation for a potential buyer.
Leading up to your meetings, you need to take some steps that build trust improve your chances of success.
Companies have always done lots of prep for meetings. But now, it’s more important to come prepared for your sales presentations.
Small details go a long way leading up to and during your sales meetings. Setting up virtual meeting agendas goes a long way in demonstrating professionalism and maintaining control. Buyers will be more confident when they know you’ve come prepared for every step of the process.
Your sales team has to remember to conduct research and do their due diligence. That means reading reports, researching buyers, finding email addresses, and even connecting with them on social media.
Non-verbal cues like eye contact and body language matter, but they are taking a back seat to research and preparation.
Understand Use-case specific to your buyer
3) Learn How To Connect
Virtual sellers who learn how to connect despite being far from their prospects despite being thousands of miles away or even the other side of the world will be the ones who succeed.
You need to master making connections over a virtual meeting. This requires different skills than talking face to face. The norms of face-to-face interactions are gone and new rules apply. Prospects are more easily distracted by their environment. After all, many of them are at home with their children. But even when they aren’t, it’s easier for your eyes and mind to wander when there’s so much distance from the people you’re talking to.
Even if your internet connection is great and your video and sound quality is top-notch, the customer side might not be the same. Connection issues, delayed audio, and visual blurs can get in the way of your interactions. As the seller, it’s your job to know how to address these issues and keep the conversation going.
First impressions are no less important in virtual meetings. But making a good first impression is not as easy. You need to come prepared and ready to take the steps you need to come across as a professional.
Before you get on the meeting, communication is key. It’s not just your teammates that benefit from collaboration before the call even starts. Clients appreciate professional courtesy and professionals who know how to take charge
Pre-meeting communication solidifies your first impressions.
Send all attendees a reminder and an agenda ahead of time. Share what you intend to discuss during each segment, and leave a Q & A period for them to ask questions. That way potential buyers can walk into the session confidently and know what to expect. Of course, it also makes your team look like virtual selling experts.
During the early parts of the prospecting phase, send out video proposals/messages. Video messaging offers you a lot of room to make a unique and exciting introduction. It also solidifies the recipients’ opinion of your team as virtual selling professionals.
You can use polls to get clients involved ahead of time. Ask them what they think with a poll before you jump on a call.
4) New Questioning Skills
Sellers that succeed come ready to enthusiastically ask the right questions. Your remote meetings are conversations, not pitches. Sales teams have to ensure information is flowing both ways and that potential buyers build up a sense of curiosity and trust.
You need to prepare your sellers by getting them in the headspace of asking questions.
The tone of your voice is more important during a virtual meeting than field sales. It’s one of the major factors that customers will consider while deciding whether they can trust you.
As a salesperson, you need to practice with your teammates and ensure your tone is appropriate. The simple step of measuring and adjusting your tone will increase your chances for successful meetings.
5) Follow-Up: Building Relationships
The sales process is based on relationships. Building relationships that count requires some creativity and intuition over virtual mediums. Potential buyers will notice little things that you won’t, so make sure you follow up with meaningful correspondence.
Post Meeting Summaries – In the same way, you would set an agenda and send it to participants prior, you should also include follow-ups post-meeting. Send summaries to team members and all participants. Highlight the most important and positive information. This step makes a big difference in making your presentation more professional and memorable.
Handwritten Cards & Gifts – Sales professionals can and should still send written cards and gifts when appropriate. The practice of mailing or sending snail mail is dated, but it will certainly set you apart from your competition.
Keep The Mood Warm – There are many ways to make your relationships with buyers more personal and unique. Get creative! Virtual meetings shouldn’t be thought of as any colder than face-to-face discussions.
Get Feedback Through Polls – Engage your audience. Meeting attendants can be distracted by many different things. But virtual meeting platforms offer you tools to keep your audience engaged. One great way to do this is to force feedback through polls. Polls are built into some video meeting platforms and they offer a simple, non-invasive way to keep attendants engaged and follow up post-session.
Strong listening skills, masterful use of technology, and simply going the extra mile will allow you to stand out when you’re building remote relationships.
You always need to set aside time to ensure you and all the sales professionals you work with can practice what they’ve learned. The sales leader and the team have to cooperate to make sure everyone:
Shares the same mindset and mentality for remote sales
Demonstrates their understanding of what they’ve learned through live-fire exercises
Salespeople can master the art of the video conference to skyrocket their success. But getting there takes preparation.
Every sales team needs to have a strong foundation for success. How Ready Are You for Virtual Selling? Take our Survey
When it comes to meeting new clients, social media presence is a must-have. LinkedIn is the best platform for salespeople to reach out and find new buyers. It’s a great platform for finding information about clients, building relationships, and keeping up with company news. Ideally, using social media well will lead to a sales call.
Social media isn’t a substitute for cold calling, but using instant messaging, adding value with a comment in targeted groups and message boards, and finding an email is a great way to get new leads – as long as you make the right impression.
6) Avoid Deal Killer Mistakes
All sales interactions are at risk of falling apart because of deal killer mistakes.
Face-to-face talks, phone calls, and virtual meetings have their unique no-nos that you need to be prepared for. At first, this will seem hard.
Most salespeople had little experience of virtual selling before 2020. Only 5% of sales professionals had access to telework before the pandemic. The new normal we have all been pushed into can make sellers feel less confident in their skills. But remote sales training makes virtual selling more familiar. When sales teams take full advantage of the new dynamic virtual sales provides, they can make their business more profitable.
The best places to start are the ones that stand out the most. One of the largest differences between virtual and in-person sales is the natural awkwardness. This is natural because remote selling is even more uncomfortable than a first-time meeting face to face.
This can be a deal killer mistake because people usually have questions. They also certainly have answers to your questions.
Talking Too Much – Many sellers feel compelled to continuously talk. It might make sense to fill in silence on a call and talk much more than you normally would. But it’s easy to go overboard, which is a problem that remote sales training addresses.
Don’t Forget to Build Rapport – Going into a virtual meeting creates a different feeling than in person. Many sellers enter them thinking it’s best to be brief, as there’s an assumed time limit. But forgoing greetings and rapport-building is a bad mistake. People still need to build rapport before they become comfortable, even on video calls.
Don’t Pay Too Much Attention to Yourself On the Screen – One issue you might not even be aware of is looking at yourself too much during your video call. It’s normal to be self-conscious, and virtual calls give you a live mirror. You may be compelled to pay attention to your body language and appearance. It’s important to pay attention to your body language, when you’re doing that, you’re not looking at the other meeting participants. This can be a deal-killing mistake. Participants notice when you pick up on subtle changes in their body language.
Background Noise – The background noise and audio quality coming from your mic will be more noticeable to other participants than it will be to you. Distracting noises will distract from the point of your meeting and can cause enough subtle discomfort to leave a bad taste in attendees’ mouths.
Don’t Allow Unnecessary Interruptions – Remember to turn off alerts and, if possible, find a sound-proof selling environment to hold your calls.
Lack Of Preparation – Not having a plan for the meeting will kill any opportunity for buyers to take you seriously. You need to be more prepared for virtual meetings than you do for face to face.
Keep Clients On YOUR Path – You can leave room for flexibility, but you need to have a plan to direct the buyer and keep the buyer on YOUR path of reason.
Never let a technical problem threaten your sale. You should never hear things like “Can you unmute your mic?” or “Your screen is freezing up”. These kinds of issues annoy customers, so you need a technical strategy that prepares your team for the best possible performance.
7) Sales Training
Lastly, you can take as many notes as you want, but you need a plan, practice and follow through. Your next virtual sales call can be your best one yet, but only after you’ve made sure you’re prepared and followed everything in the tips and advice above.
Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $500M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.
Based on my experience leading Sales Productivity at Salesforce, accelerating revenue from $300M to $3B, we’ve packaged our proven methodology into SalesHood, helping client after client achieve record breaking revenue growth.